A Tale of Two Cities: Amsterdam NY

If you look at the videos below, you will find that they both reflect the City of Amsterdam. So this single city does actually appear to be two distinct cities based upon which video you watch. I think the ensuing debate as to which video really shows the “true city” misses the point completely — they are both “true”.
True, we have blight and ruin. True, we have gorgeous homes. True, we have poverty**. True, we have homelessness. True, we have some things getting worse. True, we have some things getting better.
Like I posted a while ago when the community had a similar reaction to a film director’s comments that the city appeared “post-apocalyptic”, I feel somewhat the same with this debate — it misses the point entirely.
And that point is simply this: things will not change nor will they get better unless you ENVISION something better , unless you CREATE A STRATEGY and unless you DO SOMETHING. Or the flip side: if you envision things only getting worse, resign yourself to that outcome and do absolutely nothing , then things will indeed get worse. Unfortunately for us, we have a lot inertia for the latter and not enough momentum for the former.
Yes, both things are true TODAY. The question remains: what will be the true city TOMORROW.
That’s the question that matters. And so far, I don’t see many people answering that question at all.
Video 1:

Video 2: I cannot embed the video so please click the Facebook link here
**The 2/3 poverty rate cited for the city of Amsterdam in Video 2 is incorrect but yes we have poverty and lower median incomes.

City of Amsterdam Poverty Rate  U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

City of Amsterdam Poverty Rate U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

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9 Responses

  1. diane says:

    Flippin, I agree both videos are accurate. But both were filmed from different perspectives for different issues……….the mayor’s obviously for her fall campaign, using her rose colored glasses. The girls did theirs for a C-SPAN project and was submitted as such based on whatever criteria was requested. The girls did theirs on what has become of their hometown and thru eyes wide open. I think there was a similar one done by some male students last year looking at the same subject that was also posted to various pages and blogs.
    They should both be used by the groups to come up with suggestions on how to correct the obvious problems in the students video. We know there is blight, how do you correct it, with very little money…….it can cost upwards of 30,000.00 to 50,000.00 to demo one house ! Where does the money come from when the taxpayers are tapped out ? And until our financials are straightened out, we will not borrow, and currently are unable to.

    • Hold up, you think both videos are accurate, but you think the mayor’s is “rose-colored glasses” and the teens’ were done “thru eyes wide open?” You just contradicted yourself!
      And you really need to stop harping on the financials … you guys had no problem finding thousands to move the Riverlink tent to the golf course.

  2. diane says:

    You missed much discussion along the way Charlie Kraebel………..the tent is not going to the golf course ……….staying right where it is.
    As for the contradiction…they are both accurate videos………the mayor chooses to recognize only that which is good and clean about the city in anything she puts out…….the teens were done thru their eyes for a school project.
    Put both of these together and you have a complete picture of what our city looks like……..the good and the bad 🙂

    • I know the tent is staying. Still, you guys had no problem with it at first, so my question holds.
      You are dismissing the mayor’s video as being political in nature but you are praising the work done in the other video. And the mayor has not dismissed the issues the city has … the work being done to address them has been listed several times over.
      The difference is perception. You choose to harp only on the negative issues the city has but offer no solutions, no new ideas and latch on to meaningless issues like basketball hoops and a $900 car. You harp on code enforcement but are guilty of violating the laws of the city.
      How about actually bringing something to the table instead of complaining about what’s set in front of you?

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      I think your comment highlights my very points in the piece.
      First, I agree with Charlie that you are trying to have it both ways — criticizing the mayor for her video as a PR piece for her campaign meanwhile championing the student video for what I am sure will be part of the Republican campaign and apparently already part of your talking points.
      Second, I’m not sure how you can so fully embrace the student video as ‘eyes wide open’ when , as I pointed out, there are some factual errors with the piece. Furthermore, as a Republican, you seem to embrace the rather socialist notion presented in the video that government is to blame for poverty as government is not doing anything about it. I believe you are currently part of the very government the student video points its fingers to do something about it — government includes you as an elected alderwoman, your fellow Council members and the mayor and other local county,state officials in the city. The mayor seems to be only elected leader right now trying to champion the positive parts of the city and trying to build from that core. I agree with Charlie in that you seem to embrace all the negative aspects without at least trying to build or strive to something beyond that. But then like I often say, there is a key core to the city that just can’t see beyond the current state and revel in bashing the city. And unfortunately it is a significant voting bloc.
      Finally, it’s just not good enough to blame the budget or the mayor or whatever , when you actually sit in a position that can bring some solutions to the table. That really is the problem I pointed to in the piece: what is the strategy and plan moving forward? It’s simply not good enough to blame the budget when you sit in a position to shape the budget and where city resources will go. You and the Council seem to have no issue finding funds to needlessly litigate the golf pro contract or moving a tent to the golf course but on the core issues facing the city, we have no money to do anything. Please read my JumpStart Amsterdam piece as that pretty clearly lays out how to fund stuff.

      • I think that’s why you see small, struggling cities like Troy and Rensselaer moving forward while Amsterdam stays stuck in neutral. Troy’s issues are great, and well-documented, but there is a real honest-to-goodness effort being made to improve that city, and if you are ever in the downtown area (I’m there frequently these days), you would think you were in a different city. Rensselaer got shut out of the casino contest, and the response from officials there was to have a meeting the VERY NEXT DAY to figure out a Plan B for the property set aside for a gaming facility. No one pointed fingers or bitched about each other on local radio and social media. Yeah, the mayor made one last-ditch effort to get the state to change its mind and let the city have a casino, but they knew it was a long-shot anyway.
        The difference is there are people doing work, and they’re not derided or unfairly attacked for it. In Amsterdam, if Ann Thane’s name is attached to anything, there are people who will automatically dismiss it. It’s really petty, and it does nothing to move the city forward.

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Imagine the reaction of Troy residents and business owners , who take pride and work really hard to bring the city back, if they had a Council who criticized the mayor for promoting the positives of Troy while the Council demagogued to the media about the violent crimes in the city and touted that as the ‘real Troy’.
          In Troy, those folks would be booted out; here they are elected to office.

      • Charlie K. says:

        It should also be noted that Troy’s finances are in much worse shape than Amsterdam’s, to the point where the state has taken over. Moody’s just gave that city another negative bond rating.
        Still hasn’t stopped them from getting things done, so the whole “we can’t do anything until our financials are straightened out argument” is invalid.

  3. Bill says:

    Diane’s credibility (what little there was) went out the window when she posted a fraudulent building permit in her window. She continues to be part of the problem she endlessly harps about. Amsterdam’s future depends on the silent majority that has been watching this sorry parade go by ending their silence and taking an active role in shaping a better tomorrow. The Mayor has tried as hard as any municipal leader in the region to marshal support for that effort and despite spotty support has taken steps forward. Look east to Schenectady to see what can happen with a genuine team effort. To paraphrase John Blutarsky in ‘Animal House’ – Nothing is over until you say it is. Amsterdam’s fate is in it’s own hands. Your move.

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